With the release of longtime Falcons and fan favorite William Moore, it's clear that Atlanta needs to bring in starter quality talent at the strong safety position. Ricardo Allen appears to have the free safety job locked up unless a miracle happens and Florida State's Jalen Ramsey falls to the 17th pick (don't get your hopes up, at all).
Safety is one of the most talented positions in the draft with starting caliber players sprinkled through out. Here are a few players that would slide in seamlessly in Dan Quinn's defense.
All player measurements courtesy of NFLDraftScout.com.
Keanu Neal, Florida (6'1", 216)
When profiling the prototypical "enforcer" safety for Atlanta's Cover 3 scheme, Neal is the player that comes to mind. He's big, fast, and routinely punishes ballcarriers and receivers coming across the middle. At times the Falcons rotate their safeties in order to keep themselves from getting out-leveraged and Neal has flashed the ability to play deep overtop in a pinch. While he's not as successful playing the deep middle third as he is the box, he's not a complete liability there.
Neal may find himself available in the third round and if he's there, the Falcons should jump all over him
Darian Thompson, Boise State (6'2", 215)
Thompson is a bit more versatile than Neal and because of that the Falcons may have to take him in the first round if they decide he's their guy. Thompson has the range to make plays in the deep centerfield while possessing the physicality and tackling ability to be a legitimate presence against the run. He helped himself with a strong Senior Bowl week and should continue to see his stock rise next week at the combine.
If Atlanta can fill a few of their major holes (linebacker, edge rusher, receiver) in free agency then taking Thompson in the first round would make a lot of sense. He's an impact player that can thrive in both safety spots in Dan Quinn's defense.
Vonn Bell, Ohio State (5'11, 205)
Vonn Bell falls somewhere in between Thompson and Neal. He doesn't bring the violent, heat seeking nature of Keanu Neal and he's just a hair below Darian Thompson in overall talent level. What Bell does bring is a steady, sound presence to the defensive backfield. Bell is a smart player who's quick to read and react to route combinations and fills against the run in a controlled manner. He's solidfied himself as a solid second round talent who may rise with a good combine.
With Bell you're getting a smart, heady player who's game is perfectly tailored for the professional game. He would be a nice complement to Ricardo Allen playing on the backend.
Kavon Frazier, Central Michigan (6'0, 218)
Kavon Frazier is a play that's flying under the radar right now, but he has some serious game. Central Michigan led the Mid-American Conference in opposing passing yards per game (190.5) and Frazier played a huge role in their success. He's not the greatest athlete in the world, but he lays the wood versus the run and is usually in a position to make a play on the ball. Frazier mainly free safety at Central Michigan and he does have some value there. His role moving forward should be at strong safety where he'll be able to patrol the middle of the field and the sideline while playing his run fits with great integrity.
If the Falcons trade down at some point and acquire picks on the third day of the draft, Frazier makes a lot of sense as a guy who can grow into a potential starter sooner rather than later.
These are just a few prospects that would be nice fits in Atlanta. The safety class as a whole is very talented and there are players left off this list like West Virginia's Karl Joseph and Maryland's Sean Davis that would also be fits for Atlanta.
This draft class is setting up nicely for the prominent needs that Atlanta currently has. As the combine happens and free agency progresses, we'll have a clearer picture of what the Falcons are going to do in the draft.